Letter: Remove Clause 9 of the Borders Bill

29 January 2022: Migrant Voice letter: QARN has signed this:

 Migrant Voice - Letter: Remove Clause 9 of the Borders Bill

Today (27 January 2022), a coalition of community groups has sent an open letter signed by more than 100 organisations and individuals to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asking for the removal of Clause 9 from the Bill.

The letter was sent this morning to the Prime Minister and will also be copied to members of the House of Lords, who will be debating the Nationality and Borders Bill in Committee today.

Clause 9 extends the powers of the Home Secretary to remove Citizenship from British nationals. If the Bill passes with the clause still in place, the Home Secretary will not have to notify any individual whose British citizenship they may decide to revoke.

The coalition was convened by Nazek Ramadan, Executive Director of Migrant Voice and Councillor Khaled Noor, Chairperson, The Muslim Professionals Forum.

The open letter received more than 110 signatures from organisations and individuals in a 24 hour period, these include the Institute of Race Relations, Best for Britain, Operation Black Vote, HOPE not hate, and Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre, Muslim Welfare House and Gurdwara Baba Sang Ji. Individuals signing also include NHS workers, a Bishop, and a Principal Lecturer in Law.

Read the letter below: 

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned alliance, representing organisations and communities across the UK from all backgrounds, religions and political affiliations, are writing to express our deep concern about Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill (the Bill), which is currently before Parliament.

We ask that the Government remove Clause 9 from the Bill currently being considered in the House of Lords.

There are millions of us in this country who became British citizens by way of naturalisation or have ancestral links to a country outside the UK, and we now feel that our citizenship is regarded as second-class, if the Bill with Clause 9 becomes law. Considering its draconian nature and its likely implications, our sense of safety, security and belonging has been shaken.

The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 July 2021 and Clause 9 was introduced by the Government on 2 November 2021 at the Committee stage. It proposed a new clause specifying the circumstances under which the Secretary of State would be able to deprive a person of their British citizenship without notice.

Clause 9 of the Bill proposed to change section 40 (5) of the Nationality Act 1981, which requires to give ‚ÄúNotice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship,‚ÄĚ by inserting a subsection (5A). It will empower the Secretary of State to deprive citizenship without having to give notice if it is not ‚Äúreasonably practicable‚ÄĚ to do so; or if it is in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or otherwise in the public interest. This is indeed seriously concerning.

The UK Government currently has greater powers to deprive individuals of their citizenship than any other G20 country. Since 2011, the power to deprive citizenship has been used to strip at least 441 people of their citizenship, with 104 cases in 2017 alone. The proposed new discretionary power to deprive a person of citizenship without notice is fundamentally against our democratic values; rule of law and ‚Äúfundamental principle‚ÄĚ of the UK legal system that ‚Äúnotice of a decision is required before it can have the character of a determination with legal effect‚ÄĚ: R (Anufrijeva) v SSHD [2004] 1 AC 604 per Lord Steyn (Lords Hoffman, Millett and Scott agreeing). Hence, adding Clause 9 would be manifestly wrong in law and common-law requirements of procedural fairness.

Clause 9 is unconstitutional and should be removed from the Bill. It breaches the common law, international legal standards, and human rights law.

However, we want to go further. We call for the powers of deprivation of British citizenship to be scrapped altogether, because of their discriminatory nature and incompatibility with democratic values.

We believe that citizenship is a right, not a privilege, and should not be subject to arbitrary deprivation. We are concerned about the increasing use and expansion of deprivation powers over the years and through changing governments. 

The existing powers to deprive an individual of their citizenship, contained in section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended, are constructed in ways that greatly and disproportionately affect Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic citizens, who are far more likely to be dual nationals or be eligible for another nationality, and groups that are already marginalised.

These powers include the right to strip a dual national of their British citizenship if the Secretary of State for the Home Department is satisfied that it is ‚Äúconducive to the public good‚ÄĚ. For a naturalised British citizen, even if they are not a dual national, they can be stripped of their citizenship if the Secretary of State is satisfied they have acted in a manner ‚Äúseriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK‚ÄĚ, and has a ‚Äúreasonable belief‚ÄĚ that the person can become a citizen of another country, even if it makes them stateless. Some have already been made stateless.

The power to strip people of their British citizenship is a draconian measure with a disproportionate impact that is an affront to justice and to any sense of citizenship as a unifying status of all who possess it.

By introducing Clause 9, the Secretary of State proposes to exercise these powers in secret, which would affect the ability of a person to challenge the legality of the deprivation decision taken against them. As stated by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, it would render their right of appeal ‚Äėmeaningless‚Äô and risks violating their right to a fair trial.

We call for Clause 9 to be removed from the Bill and a frank and fundamental discussion to be opened up about the government’s powers to remove citizenship.

Yours sincerely,

Signed:

Read more: https://www.migrantvoice.org/home/pagenews/letter-remove-clause-9-of-270122112641